Crealytics eCommerce Café: Matt Van Wagner

- Luke Metcalfe

This post is part of the series eCommerce Café

Other posts in this series:

  1. Crealytics eCommerce Café: Elizabeth Marsten
  2. Crealytics eCommerce Café: David Szetela
  3. eCommerce Café: Purna Virji

At the SMX West 2017 Conference in San Jose, we had the pleasure to chat with Matt Van Wagner, Founder of Find Me Faster, about the current and upcoming trends in all things SEM. Check out the full interview below.

Direct Youtube link.

To stay tuned with Matt, you can follow him on Twitter, @MVanWagner.

We will be at SMX London, May 23-24…more chats to come!

Full Transcript

Andreas: Matt, I know you already pretty well. You’ve moderated several of my sessions at SMX, and I see you are very active in this space. You’re all over the place. What are you doing if you’re not at SMX?

Matt: Well…Not as happy, because I wouldn’t be able to sit with guys like yourself, which is really the best part of these work with folks from around the world and get to know the cool things they’re working on. I have to admit that when I first saw your presentation in London, I absolutely fell in love and I said you’ve got to come to do our SMX Advanced. I really like the approach you take in strategy and tactical thinking.

Aside from that, I run an agency. We are called Find Me Master. We specialize in paid search primarily in Google and Bing. We will take on SEO clients if they know less about SEO than we do. We make them swear to that. When I am not doing work, I’ve been married now for 34 the same wife laughs…and I have 2 kids fully grown out of the house. I love music; I play trumpet, I sing in a couple of jazz bands and do a lot of weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, whatever people need. So that’s me.


Andreas: You’re focused on search. There are several different philosophies in the market. Recently someone from Google told me not to focus on one channel, but instead on people because they move through many channels. I responded, “Look we are taking the data across channels and using a proper attribution system. We can focus on this channel and make decisions in a more holistic way without necessarily handling all the channels.” What’s your take on this?

Matt: When we work with clients, we only do the paid search component. So there’d have to be other experts that are around that we team up with that are the best of the breed for this client, that are able to implement tactically the types of things the companies are trying to achieve strategically in the marketplace. I think Google is right to a certain degree that you need to be thinking at that level, but I think teams, the concept of teams these days really goes well beyond a couple of folks sitting around a desk. You can be on the dark side of the moon, and be contributing to a social media campaign. What we try to negotiate between the various teams. The Social specialists, the SEO specialists, the Analytics specialist, which we all have to be, as well as the offline stuff. People are doing catalog, email, and other types of things. We all take a large level of strategic direction but nobody is going to do better on this team to implement that strategy in paid search and shopping than we are going to do. I think you can build a team however you need to.


Andreas: Where do your clients benefit more: Giving operational advice or rather strategic guidance?

Matt: Our approach is that the value is in the high level strategic planning and implementation. At a tactical level, we can be replaced, and we will be replaced by robots, automation, or young workers willing to work for minimum wage to do fairly menial things. The tactical stuff..there is no real payoff in that. Let’s take a look at website design. Anyone can put up a website, but to make something functionally appropriate and beautiful requires a different level of skill. We think that the better value is to work with our client strategically. How do you go to market? What are the other things you are doing? How do we work together with all these other things you’re doing? How do we support your Salesforce, here in the US or across the world? Based on what they want to achieve from a company standpoint, we say “Okay, this is what we think is the appropriate approach to paid search or shopping would be.” We don’t need to win at the expense of the other folks losing. We don’t need to look like the star supporting our diva behaviors. We believe a strong team means that everyone is functioning at the same level. We think strategic consulting is where the value is.


Andreas: A couple of years ago, paid search was really hard work. Very time consuming. You have to manage hundreds of thousands of keywords. If you are active on Google Shopping today, you can potentially just upload a product feed and let it run. There are more ways to tweak shopping campaigns of course, but still it’s pretty obvious that the work needed in GS is less than in traditional paid search on the text ad side. Do you think that Google will put agencies out of business at some point of time?

Matt: I think there is always a dynamic that the prime vendor, whether its Google or Bing, or any other marketplace, electronic design software, whatever the case may be. They try to solve as much of the problem the customer has as they possibly can. That’s how they continue to increase value. But as they push value, they always leave holes. They can only push forward as fast as their customer base can push forward, so there is always a need for third parties to support a good primary vendor. By understanding where the weaknesses are and being able to tap down on weaknesses and push up the strengths.


Andreas: Some of the learnings on our end…we see as automation goes up, things are getting more and more complex so the increasing complexity tends to overcompensate the degree of automation to some extent.

Matt: I think so, I think so. We are not on driverless cars, we’re not on driverless campaigns at this point. It’d be great if we could all get there, but I think realistically there will always be plenty of opportunities for tools like you guys provide and agencies we support our clients to provide additional boost to give a competitive advantage for our clients.

Continue reading this series:


Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics

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